It’s that time of year again in the northern hemisphere. You can practically smell all the green potential in the air. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, all your local trees and plants are starting to come back, and you can’t wait to get on your bike. Except ... what if you’re currently missing a bike in this equation?
Never fear, friends. As I type this, if you’re in the U.S., Cycle Trader is chock full of great bikes you can get for less than $3,000. If you’re thinking it’s all small-displacement scooters and dirt bikes, think again. Through careful perusal, we found quite a selection of options around the country that could be your next great ride for 2021, and that won’t break the bank.
Now, to be clear, the way bike math works (apart from “bike + 1 = your optimal number of bikes”) is that you can almost always pay less if you’re willing to wrench more. However, for our purposes, we stuck to bikes that appear as though you could probably go out and ride them immediately after purchase.
Clearly, with classifieds, we can only go by the information listed in the ad. If you get inspired by anything you see here, it’s up to you to ask any and all questions of the seller and check that everything’s what you expect before any money changes hands. That said, let’s dive into our list of bikes that are new-to-you in 2021 and cost under $3,000.
1999 BMW K 1200 LT
Location: Milaca, Minnesota
Comes with a laundry list of sweet touring amenities, including ABS, heated seat, heated grips, cruise control, electric windshield, and fog lights. The seller also says it had a new battery in 2020, and that the tires are “like new, plenty of tread.” There are only a handful of photos here, but if the description is accurate, it seems like a whole lot of bike for not a lot of cash.
1992 Honda ST1100
Location: Lakewood, Colorado
This is a solid Honda sport tourer that the selling dealer says someone traded in on the purchase of a new Africa Twin. If you’re looking for solid Honda reliability, you love Honda red, and you especially love a color-matched pair of hard side cases, this could just be the bike for you in 2021.
2010 Honda NT700V ABS
Location: Spokane, Washington
The seller doesn’t mince words in their description, basically only saying “high miles, but it runs like a Honda” and touting its great commuting abilities. With that hard case and matching hard luggage, you could probably fit much more than just your everyday carry inside.
This NT700V has a bunch of stickers on it, and the left side case looks like it either scraped a wall or the bike went down on that side. In the closeup photos, you can see minor scuffs and scratches on some of the plastics, that are consistent with an 11-year-old bike that someone rode for 138,000 miles. Unlike some ads, there are a bunch of photos in this listing. That alone is a little more confidence-inspiring, if you ask us.
2003 Yamaha FJR 1300
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
With over 100K miles on its clock, someone’s clearly been out touring on this touring bike. Who would’ve guessed? It comes with a nice top box and color-matched hard side cases. There aren’t a huge number of photos, and what few exist are a little blurry. From far away and through Vaseline-smeared goggles, a first photo-impression doesn’t look bad. The selling dealer says it runs, which is always a plus. It also comes with a 30-day motor and transmission warranty, which could be handy if you live in the area.
1994 Honda GL1500 Gold Wing
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
This classic Honda touring machine has clearly munched a whole bunch of miles, and is ready to go out and munch another 100K more. It’s that beautiful wine color that Honda does so well on ‘Wings, a color that goes very nicely with all the black upholstery and other accents throughout this bike. There’s even a cupholder and a chrome, top box-mounted luggage rack.
Plentiful and detailed photos show a bike that looks to have been well cared-for over its life—at least, cosmetically speaking. While there are no guarantees, someone who cares about the outside on an older bike probably also cares about the inside as well.
2008 Yamaha FZ6
Location: Harmony, Pennsylvania
This FZ6 looks mean in all black, and probably sounds even meaner with its M4 carbon race exhaust tucked up under that saddle. The seller says it has minor scuffs and dings, which is understandable on a bike that’s been ridden. If you’re looking for a good, honest sport naked, you could certainly do worse for under $3K.
1999 Honda CBR 600 F4
Location: Houston, Texas
This is a pretty nice-looking F4 in Sunrise Yellow, and it comes with some nice extras included with the sale. The seller says it’s had a recent carb rebuild with new fuel jets. It comes with an Erion Racing exhaust and Michelin Pilot Power rubber. If you buy this bike, you’ll also get some spares, including extra body panels and a new chain.
1999 BMW K 1200 RS
Location: Plano, Texas
If you’re looking for an eye-catching Beemer, this yellow K 1200 RS is definitely sure to turn some heads. The seller unfortunately doesn’t list much in the way of details about it, but the photos show a bike that looks to be in fairly good cosmetic condition, and looks like it’s been pretty well cared-for. Considering that it’s over 20 years old, that’s certainly no small thing.
2003 BMW F 650 CS
Location: Arvada, Colorado
Odometer: It’s 400 miles into a top-end overhaul performed by an authorized BMW dealer.
If you’re looking for a 650cc BMW thumper with a nice windscreen, heated hand grips, ABS, and a new battery, this could very much be up your street. In addition to that top-end rebuild, the seller says it’s less than 400 miles into an oil change and a new set of Michelin tires from the same dealer. Additionally, the seller claims that gas mileage is “62 mpg when cruising at 80 mph in still air on flat ground.” This could be a great commuter, and probably good for a little light trail riding, as well.
2002 Honda VTX 1800 RETRO
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Who says you can’t get a massive 1,795cc V-twin with shaft drive for under $3,000? If they did, they obviously haven’t seen this bike. To be fair, it’s clearly been tipped over at least once, because there’s a little scuff and dent on the left side of the tank that you’ll see in the photos. It also appears that the left mirror was tweaked just a little, so you may want to check the handlebar on that side, as well. Still, if you don’t mind a minor tip, that may not be a huge deal. Some people find that comforting about used bikes, because then it means you won’t be the one to put the first scratch on it.
Anyway, it comes with a Cobra exhaust and Mustang seats, as well as passenger floorboards. The seller says that it runs and sounds great, but of course, you’ll have to see for yourself if you decide to buy it.
That’s a nice snapshot of what’s available in mid-April, 2021 on Cycle Trader. There are undoubtedly plenty of other options across other platforms, in various states of repair and/or rideability. If you’re in the market for more of a project bike, you can undoubtedly find plenty of bikes for a lot less than $3K. Have you seen any great deals lately that you want to tell us about? Let us know in the comments!
Original story published Feb 2018. Refreshed July 2019, and most recently in April, 2021.